It Was ... A Memorable Event

Over 60 NM Masons Present for a Guest Speaker, a Fellowcraft Degree, and Fraternal Visiting!



By: Stephen A. Balke
Event Coordinator

Stephen Balke

On Thursday, January 11, 2024, over sixty New Mexico Masons gathered at Temple Lodge No. 6 for a presentation by Worshipful Brother Brian Ragain of Oklahoma on his book Keys to Masonic Memorization, a Fellowcraft Degree performed by noted ritualists, and fellowship with Brethren from across the jurisdiction. This event was four months in the making and was more successful than many anticipated.

On a weekday impacted by weather in many parts of the state, we gathered to experience Freemasonry. Worshipful Brother Len Roughgarden made sure we had great food from Joe’s Pasta House in Rio Rancho, serving a Lasagna, Southwest Chicken Alfredo, and Eggplant Parmesan; the weather likely stopped some from being hungry. Right Worshipful Brother Tony Christopherson and Worshipful Brother Brian Moss stepped up to register people and we were off.

Keys to Masonic Memorization
Keys to Masonic Memorization

It was fantastic to see Brethren from across the state, and due to an event cancellation, the Grand Master was able to be in attendance as well! With everyone gathered in Temple’s ample dining area, the fellowship started. In consideration of travelers and the weather, Worshipful Brother Brian Ragain gave his presentation during the latter half of the dinner hour. He introduced the reason for his book, and for the second “dyslexic” edition, and encouraged Brothers to keep working and help others to create the easiest path for their journey. Every attendee that wanted one received a copy of his book. It was well received by the Brethren.

Why was the degree special? Because noted ritualists from across the state came together to give the degree – but did not know what their role would be until we were in Lodge. Right Worshipful Brother James Bungard led the Conferral team including Right Worshipful Brothers Chuck Bass, Don Bovia, Alex Cosby, Robin Justice, and James Overfelt and Worshipful Brothers Steve Bell and Greg Stihel (RWB Robin Justice was unable to attend). Most Worshipful Brother Jonathan Andrews led the Lecture team including Right Worshipful Brother Kevin Fitzwater and Worshipful Brothers Bert Dalton and Keith MacRae. All of these Brothers were ready to do “whatever” they drew.

At 7:00 PM, Worshipful Master Peter Hackett brought Temple Lodge to Labor and we started the degree. The teams then drew their tiles from a bag at random, which gave them their role for the night.

The Lecturers went first, drawing a tile from the cloth bag; then the Conferral Team. After choosing the tile with the Station, Place or part they were to do, the Conferral Team relieved the Officers in their Places or Stations. Two prompters, Most Worshipful Brother Jeffrey D. Johnson and Right Worshipful Brother Dan Lucero, one on each side of the Lodge, agreed to serve. This started an amazing courtesy Fellowcraft Degree for Brother Matthew Vigil of Chapman Lodge. The Second Section was divided into four parts and took the handoff from the Conferral Team after the first section was done. It would have been considered a very well performed degree had that team been practicing and working together in Lodge and was incredible because few of them had ever worked together before that night – at all.

When the degree was over, Most Worshipful Grand Master Tom Schenk commended the ritualists for a job well done, greeted our new Fellowcraft, and mentioned that he had enjoyed the experience. After the Lodge was closed, most left quickly to get through any weather and home. Special thanks to Brothers Joel McIntosh, Cameron Barnes, and Ryan Bailey of Temple Lodge, who ensured that the Lodge might be open to allowing courtesy events in the future by leaving the dining area, kitchen, and lodge room at least as well as we found it.

Jan 11 Thank you!This was a great effort and gave many a great experience. In addition to those mentioned, thanks go to Temple Lodge for being the host, and Hiram, Estancia, and Edgewood Lodges for contributing financially to defray expenses so we could keep the costs low for those attending. And to Brothers Austin Norris and Jeff Fulton who were a part of the logistics team to ensure food and table ware, etc. were in place. And, thank you, Michele Balke for some great photos!

Of the 71 Masons that registered, 64 attended. Of the 64, 19 responded (a respectable 29.69%) to a survey which asked the following:

The following were rated 1-5, 1 being “Needs Improvement”, 5 being “was GREAT!”

“Thank you for joining us at Temple Lodge for the Fellowcraft Degree, guest speaker, and dinner. Please let us know your impression of the event on Thursday.”

AVG

“Grade”

 

4.53

90.53%

The dinner and fraternal time

4.68

93.68%

The education opportunity

4.68

93.68%

The degree

To the one Yes/No question: “Would you be inclined to attend similar future events?”, 18 of 19 or 94.74% said “Yes.”
There were two open ended questions as well, giving various suggestions for improvement for an event such as this, and many saying what a great time was had. The plan is to have the report in full for our Grand Lodge Annual Communication.

Thank you to everyone for A Memorable Experience!

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